Singer/songwriter Ed Vallance released a fine record called The Modern Life a couple of years ago to little fanfare. Which is a drag, frankly. The Brooklyn-based Londoner deserves more attention, and hopefully Volcano will give it to him. Despite being a singer who writes his own songs, Vallance is no introspective folkie. Instead, he trucks in propulsive rhythms, dreamy textures and catchy choruses for days, a format perfectly suited to the heartstring tug of his voice – the almost casual ease over which he glides over his melodies calls to mind David Bowie as much as it does Ultravox.
The songs don’t so much soar as swirl, but with a grounded center that emphasizes hooks over atmosphere. “Dear Misfortune,” “Black and White Light” and “Into the Forest Fire” could easily slot on a radio playlist between Coldplay and Phoenix, minus the bombast and self-importance. But don’t mistake these songs for mere ear candy – underneath the accessible sheen Vallance adds depth, letting real emotions speak through his craftsmanship. Check out the twin anthems “Seabird” and “Famous Last Words” – these are the kind of tunes that induce unselfconscious closed-eye singalongs, maybe even some lighter waving, because they speak to a genuinely communal experience. Volcano is a gorgeous, memorable record – here’s hoping it makes Ed Vallance a star.